Friday, March 27, 2009

A quick note before heading off for Ontario for the weekend

This afternoon Andrew and I have a flight to catch that will take us first to Calgary and then on to Hamilton. My friend Caroline is getting married on Saturday afternoon. I suspect this will be one of the bigger and fancier weddings I'll ever attend, as I've heard the expected guest list is around 200 people. That and last Christmas (i.e. 2007) Caroline was already receiving fine crystal as wedding/engagement gifts.

Before that; however, I need to get done as much homework as possible and then I have to skate my preliminary freeskate test--as long as the judge stays on time. If I wasn't already a little nervous about completing a test in front of a judge it's compounded by the time crunch issue. Originally the test was set for Wednesday afternoon and was switched to today. From what I understand, there were too many skaters for the amount of time that was available on Wednesday.

I'm sure I'll be okay. I have actually passed this test once before, when I was twelve or so. And I'm inclined to think I've improved since then. I'm not worried about my jumps, but I'm a little concerned about my spins. They can be dicey. My upright spin will be fine, but all the camel will be okay too, as long as I get up into the position. The sit, well, I can't get it onto the right edge (which hopefully new blades will fix) and the back make me a little nervous just thinking about it.

Right. That homework I'm suppose to be doing. Better go.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No time to be hatching a plot

A few weeks ago I had a dream where I lived in a giant airplane hanger-like building that was divided into cubicles. In the cubicles lived people. At the time, it reminded me a little of the part in The Muppets Take Manhattan where they live in lockers at the bus station. Every muppet had decorated their locker to suit their personality. This is what happened in the cubicles in my dream. I recall that I had a hammock in mine and some beaded curtains. I also had a corner cubical so I could see everyone as they passed by. This was also one of my figure skating dreams (Canadian figure skaters were also living in cubicles) but that's not terribly important to this post.

Since I had the dream I've thought the notion of communal living in cubicles could make for an interesting story. Last night before going to bed and this afternoon (while at work) I started to mull over the possibilities for plot ideas. I'm thinking about making this into a speculative YA story with a fifteen year-old deaf girl as my protagonist. I actually managed to work out a number of details around the world and the community, but I still haven't figured out what the crisis will be. I'll keep pondering and see what ideas niggle their way into my brain. I might have to jot them down since at the present I have no idea when I might actually work on this MS. After all, I've still got UFO under construction and like my knitting, I don't like to have more than one project on the go at a time.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Running away to join the Cirque de la Symphonie

Yesterday Andrew and I attended the ESO performance of Cirque de la Symphonie. This show wasn't a part of our normal ESO series package, but as subscribers to the orchestra we received a fifty dollar voucher to purchase tickets to any show from the 2009 season. Since we both enjoyed the Cirque du Soliel show we saw a few years ago at Rexall place, we thought this would be a good choice. We were able to score tickets in row 'F' which put us quite close to the stage--normally, we sit in the first row of the second balcony.

I felt the music selected for program was quite good and I was familiar with most of it. The afternoon featured several pieces by Dvorak, Khachaturian, and Bizet and singles from Saint-Saens, Ravel and Copland. In fact, I think Copland's Hoedown (from Rodeo) is one of my favourite pieces and I really need to get a copy of it on CD. I also thought the layout of the program was quite smart. They started off with the lively Carnival Overture by Dvorak, which featured just the orchestra. From then on they more or less alternated between performer and orchestra, and just orchestra. It's a good way to introduce non-symphony goes to classical music. The Winspear was pretty much full up yesterday afternoon, which is never the case on our regular Friday night Master's shows. From my seat I could see a little girl, who was probably five or six, who I often noticed bobbing up and down to the music.

The cirque performers were very entertaining, which I suppose is there job. There's something fascinating about the extreme capabilities of the human body (this is possibly why the Olympics are so popular). There was a mix of acrobatics, flexibility, hand-eye coordination and strength. I must admit, that I was the least impressed with the acrobatics as I couldn't help but think: "Well I could do that...if I practiced a little bit...although I might not be quite as flexible." Don't get me wrong, they were good, they just weren't my favourites.

The afternoon's first performer was the "Lady in White." She was a flexibility/gymnastic act and performed on a little contraption that looked like two bar stools joined together. Her music was the Waltz (from Masquerade Suite) by Khachaturian, which I adore. I find it interesting, what evokes an "ooh" or "ahh" from the audience. I think for her, it was some of the strange ways she was able to move her body, like flexing her legs like butterfly wings while in a handstand. I think the juggler came next--he actually performed in both acts. In the first half he juggled rings, I think there were seven or eight in the end. In the second half he used propellers that actually twirled as he tossed them--it was pretty cool.

The act I really wanted to comment on were the strong/balancing men. They were the very last performers and were definitely the crowd favourites. They performed to Bolero by Ravel. First off, these guys are crazy-muscular. There probably isn't an ounce of fat on their bodies, which is a good thing since they perform wearing nothing more than what amounts to gold underwear and gold body paint. The one guy was slightly larger and served as the base for all their movies, while the other was a little smaller and was sort of the "centre piece." Being so close to the front we could see how much the bigger guy shook when he kept still as the other guy climbed on his head and posed. The things they did were nuts, I couldn't possible provide a description that does them justice. As a testament to how amazing these guys were, at one point I noticed that the conductor, Bill Eddins wasn't really conducting any more. He had turned around to watch what the performers were doing and was laughing in the amazed sort of way some people do when they don't know how else to response to what they're seeing. They were very cool.

I think that's about all I've got for now. I will try to put up some progress pictures on our garden soon, although not much has changed, the green things have just gotten a little bigger.



Saturday, March 14, 2009

I watched the Watchmen

Last night Andrew and I went to see Watchmen. Since leaving the movie last night I've been thinking about what I would write about it today. And I'm still not too sure. I guess it might be good to start out by saying that I liked it. Quite a lot, actually. In general, I like super hero movies (I can glance over at our DVD collection and see all 3 Spidermans, X-men 1 and 2, The Hulk [the version with Edward Norton], The Incredibles, the first 5 season of BTVS, etc), although they tend to leave me feeling a little wistful. It's not so much that I want a super power, but I want the clear-cut purpose that superheros tend to have. There tends to be an obvious bad person, bent on doing harm to the human race and the hero has to stop them. Wouldn't it be nice to have such a straight forward purpose in life? Fight crime, stop the bad guy, save the day and possibly win the girl (or boy).

The movie. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea. It's rated R. There's violence, sex and...lots of rain. It actually ends pretty happily despite all things, which is perhaps needed so that viewers can cope with everything they witnessed during the two hour and forty-five minute movie. As I think back, the violence, although at times extremely brutal was mostly tolerable. There were only two occasions (both involving the character Rorschach) where the action made me cringe. For the purposes of comparison, I would say that Sin City was a more difficult movie to watch. The hand-to-hand combat sequences were well done. And I'm always happy to see female characters (no matter how suggestively dressed) who can take on their fair share of the fighting, which the Silk Specter did. If you can cope with the movie's violence, the last issue is the graphic sex scene in the middle of the movie, set to Lenard Cohen's Alleluia. After that you just have to deal with the movie's main theme: the dark side of human nature. A piece of cake (to go with your tea), really.

I won't go into much detail on the plot, I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's viewing experience, but I would like to briefly touch on the story's setting: 1985, although an alternate reality to what we know. Richard Nixon is in his forth (or was if fifth?) term, America won the Vietnam war and the Dooms Day clock is at four minutes to midnight. Definitely not a happy place to be. For some reason the fact that it's set in 1985 amuses me, I think it's something about the fashions. The characters are dressed in hideous corduroy sports coats and wear enormous-rimmed glasses it's great and terrible at the same time. There are also all kinds of other interesting 1980s references such as computers equipped with the original MAC OS, clips of movies playing on television (such as Mad Max) and some of the music choices. Actually, the sound track was pretty awesome, it included: Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle, the afore mentioned Lenard Cohen, Wagner and I think some Mozart as well.

According to Andrew the plot line was kept close to the comics (he just finished reading them). Many of the scenes and dialogue come directly out of the original material, although some of the side-stories have been cut to keep the movie manageable. Apparently the ending has been changed slightly as well, although the changes don't seemed to have affected Andrew's enjoyment of the movie. According to what I've read, the author Alan Moore, has totally disavowed all connection to the movie and in his opinion it's an unfilmable story. Maybe a true retelling isn't possible, I don't know, I haven't read the comics yet, but I'd say the movie was a fine adaption.

All in all, as long as you can tolerate the things I mentioned above (the violence and sex) and you don't mind dwelling on human darkness for while, you'll probably like the movie. We'll definitely be purchasing a copy when it comes out on DVD.



Monday, March 9, 2009

Balcony garden 2009: Day 17

I felt really busy over the weekend and for some reason the thought of taking the time to write up a short blog entry on how our garden was doing seemed impossible. (In fact, I didn't leave my apartment from Friday afternoon (~3:00 pm) straight through to Sunday night (~6:30 pm) so why I couldn't spare the time is beyond me.) I thought I had better provide a quick update before next weekend as all kinds of things are growing in our little planters.

The sweet peas (which I frequently mistake for being green beans...) are growing like crazy. I sometimes wonder, if I sat long enough, could I actually see them growing? They have little shoots that coil themselves around the trellis to hold themselves up. In my mind they're like alien growths shooting out and grabbing on to things. Pretty cool.

Carrots. They're coming. They're pretty tiny right now and we've had to weed a bunch out so they'd have room.

The radishes don't appear to be ready yet, despite the fact that the package said it would only take them 2 weeks to grow. I tried to dig one up on Saturday to see if they were ready and well...I couldn't find anything. I guess that means they're not ready.

We've got wee little strawberries growing. I'd guess about half of the plants we sowed have broken the surface so far, I hope the remaining plants will succeed as well. It will be sometime before they're ready to transplant outside.

Finally, the tomatoes are coming along swimmingly. I'm not sure if we're going to let them all grow, or if we'll pitch some of them. I guess it depends on whether or not I can find some rhubarb to plant in our second planter.